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Everything you need to know about wheelchair ramps

Everything you need to know about wheelchair ramps

Types of Wheelchair Ramps

Wheelchair ramps are mobility devices designed to offer safe and secure access for individuals with mobility impairments.


You or a loved one may need a ramp as a long-term aid for or a temporary solution for after surgery or injury. Whichever is your case, Harmony Home Medical has the right ramp for your specific needs. 


This post will discuss the common types of ramps and guide you through a simple method to determine the right ramp length and style for your home. 


But first, let's see how a wheelchair ramp can make your life easier. 

How a Ramp Improves Your Mobility and Lifestyle

A ramp is critical to keeping yourself or your loved one safe. Stairs, even those few steps leading from your kitchen into your backyard, can be a huge problem for anyone struggling with mobility. Possible risks include falls and injuries. But ramps strategically placed throughout your home help mitigate these risks.


Ramps also help improve the quality of life. Someone using a wheelchair, walker, rollator, or scooter can move around without having to worry whether they can enter or exit a building safely and timely. The outcome is increased independence and confidence.


Improved independence of mobility-device users also means fewer hassles and less fatigue for the caregivers.


Keep the above benefits in mind as we explore the different types of ramps currently available in the market. 

Types of Wheelchair Ramps

Wheelchair-accessible ramps are available in three primary configurations: permanent, modular, and folding ramps. 

Permanent Wheelchair Ramps

As the name suggests, permanent ramps are added to a facility as a permanent feature. They are ideal for individuals who must use a mobility device (like a wheelchair or scooter) because of a permanent condition. Also, it’s a cost-effective option for homes with several seniors. 


Installing a permanent ramp often requires the intervention of a licensed contractor. On average, the cost of installing a permanent ramp in San Diego ranges between $2000 and up.


Concrete is the most preferred material for permanent wheelchair ramps, but you can opt for wood, aluminum, or galvanized steel.  


Note that although permanent ramps offer the highest level of stability, relocating them can be costly or impossible.

Folding Ramps

Portable or folding wheelchair ramps are ideal for temporary use and an excellent choice for people in recovery. They are more affordable than their permanent counterparts because there is no need to build underneath the ramp. 


Portable ramps are lightweight and can collapse down for easy storage and transport. They are typically constructed with aluminum, rubber, and/or fiberglass. Prices range between $100 and $2,000.


They can typically handle 300 to 600 pounds. But also available are bariatric ramps that can support as much as 1000 pounds. 


These ramps should not extend more than 10 feet in length unless it's a roll-a-ramp whose maximum allowable length is 12 feet.


Below are the common types of portable wheelchair ramps:


  • Single-fold ramps: They are often referred to as suitcase ramps because they can fold into a long-style suitcase with a carrying handle. They are ideal for short inclines and loading an unoccupied electric wheelchair into the side of a minivan. An upgrade to this style is the multi-fold ramp that consists of several folds. 
  • Threshold ramps: They are robust, wedge-shaped ramps that allow mobility-device users to go over small obstructions such as landings, low curbs, and door thresholds. They suit both outdoor and indoor use.
  • Telescopic ramps: These portable ramps can retract or extend to smooth transitions through raised landings and steps. They have different length-extension capabilities, typically ranging between five and ten feet in length. Some models come in the form of a solid surface, while others use two tracks that line up with the wheelchair’s wheels.
  • Roll-A-Ramp: Roll-A-Ramp has a unique, highly portable design that allows them to roll up like a sleeping bag. They come in various widths and lengths to suit different size requirements. Still, you can choose between a single and double track style. 

Modular Ramps

Modular ramps offer a unique blend of the portable ramps' versatility and the strength and ease of use of permanent ramps.


Modular ramps are prefabricated and sold in multiple sections. As such, they require minimal groundwork and take a few hours to install.


You can expect to spend between $400 and $4,000 on this type of wheelchair ramp, but costs can increase for lengths over 20’..


While modular ramps can remain in place at home or in a commercial setting, their design allows for easy removal and adjustments if needed. 


With custom modular ramps, you can add, remove, or reconfigure sections to accommodate specific needs. For example, if a tree falls on your ramp, you only need to replace the damaged section (rather than the entire ramp). 


Additionally, most of these ramps come in high-traction and self-draining platforms, offering better anti-slip properties than typical ramps.


If you need further assistance choosing the most suitable model for your needs, mobility experts at Harmony Home Medical are just a call away: (858) 560-8177.

How to Decide The Ramp Length You Need

You want to use the least possible slope when installing a wheelchair ramp, meaning you build the longest possible ramp in a particular space. It becomes easier to climb, and there is less risk of falling backward. What's more, it's safer to use a less steep ramp during bad weather like snow or rain. 


For wheelchair ramps, ADA(Americans with Disabilities Act) recommends a maximum slope of 1:12, which translates into a one-inch rise for every 12 inches of the ramp. 


The slope is essentially the rise to run ratio. For instance, a 10-inch ramp that sits five inches high has a 5:10 or 1:2 slope.


Your ramp's vertical rise should not exceed 30 inches. Additionally, the ADA requires a turn or rest platform for every 30 feet (about 9 meters) of ramp length to allow users to rest.


To determine the ramp length you need, you'll need to measure the vertical height from the bottom position to the top position. 


For example, if you intend to install a ramp on your front porch stairs, measure the total rise between the pavement and the porch floor. Then, divide the total rise by the recommended slope to obtain the ramp length.


Assuming the rise is 20 inches, your ramp should be 20 feet long based on a 1:12 slope ratio; however, in your own home you can use any length you want. It is not advisable to go less than half of what ADA recommends. We often recommend a  1:8 ratio. Often in the home ADA guidelines are overkill and that much space can be difficult to find.


In 2019 Mobile Home Parks were reclassified to fall under ADA guidelines for home installations since the land the home is on is “public” and leased. So for these applications the guidelines would be as follows:

ADA requirements for wheelchair ramps in 2021 include: 

  • Any wheelchair ramp that is more than six inches high must have handrails on both sides. 
  • The ramp must be at least 3 feet wide between the handrails.
  • The ramp handrails should run the entire length of the ramp and allow at least 1.5 inches of space between them and the wall.
  • The ramp must include appropriate landings at the bottom and the top of the ramp. Each landing should be as wide as the ramp and span at least 60 inches in length. 
  • Each turn platform should be at least 60 inches by 60 inches to accommodate turning wheelchairs. 

Learn more about ADA ramp design standards

Does Medicare Cover Wheelchair Ramps?

Although Medicare Part B(Medical Insurance) covers several types of Durable Medical Equipment( like a wheelchair), it does not offer coverage for wheelchair ramps. 


Your doctor could even prescribe a ramp as a medically necessary item, but typically ramps don’t meet Medicare's requirements for pieces of equipment needed to treat a medical condition directly.


In most states, Medicaid often pays for adaptive technology that enables seniors to age in place-  including wheelchair ramps. But the user must be a low-income homeowner to qualify for Medicaid coverage. 

Where to Buy a Wheelchair Ramp in San Diego, CA

Whether you use a wheelchair, walker, or scooter, a wheelchair ramp offers you the mobility independence you need to lead a more quality life. 


To ease your life further, Harmony Home Medical offers a diverse portfolio of wheelchair ramps. We are a certified and highly reputed medical equipment supplier in San Diego dedicated to making homes safer and more accessible. We take pride in offering medical products engineered using the latest technology and best materials for utmost reliability and durability. 


We are glad to answer any question you have regarding our line of wheelchair ramps... and help you choose the best option for your mobility needs and budget. Call us at (858) 560-8177 or drop us a message here.